Prime Minister Theresa May invoked art.50 of the Treaty on European Union on 29 March 2017 and gave notice to the European Council of the UK's intention to withdraw from the EU.

On exit, the European Communities Act 1972 will be repealed and, at the same time, applicable EU law will be converted into domestic law. Most EU Directives are already implemented in the UK by regulations or Acts of Parliament. Therefore, employment laws are not expected to change as a result of Brexit, but afterwards will be subject to Parliament's control over domestic law.

A significant consequence of the UK's full exit from the EU is the removal of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice over UK law. The final court of appeal will be the Supreme Court. The jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights is unaffected by Brexit.

In terms of timescales, Theresa May aims for the agreement with the EU to be concluded by the end of the two-year period after notice is given under art.50. There will be a "phased process of implementation" after the two-year period to allow time to prepare for the new arrangements. The negotiated agreement between the UK and the EU will be subject to a vote in both Houses of Parliament before it comes into force.

The Government has also published a White Paper: The United Kingdom's exit from and new partnership with the European Union. The White Paper sets out the basis for the Government's priorities and broad strategy for the UK's agreement with the EU, including employment and immigration.

On the UK's exit from the EU, the extent to which immigration and travel is permitted by nationals of EU member states will be subject to agreement. The Government is currently seeking a reciprocal agreement with other EU member states to guarantee the rights of EU citizens who are already living in Britain and the rights of British nationals in other member states and views this as a priority.

We will continue to provide guidance as the situation develops.

Practical guidance

Our new How to guide on Brexit sets out the steps that employers can take to prepare for the UK's exit from the EU and changes to immigration rules.


How to

Policies and documents

Audio and video

  • Webinar: Managing international assignments in an uncertain world
  • Webinar: Brexit - what now for HR? In this webinar, Darren Newman and Annabel Mace discuss what Brexit means for UK employment law, the impact of the leave vote on the immigration status of non-UK EU nationals living and working in the UK and what you can do now to prepare for the UK's exit from the EU.
  • Podcast 1: Potential employment law implications of a Brexit In the first of our special podcasts recorded before the referendum, Nicky Stibbs explains how EU employment law is incorporated into UK employment law, including what role is currently played by the European Court of Justice. Nicky also looks at the areas of UK employment law that might be in the firing line.
  • Podcast 2: The possible impact of a Brexit In the second of our special podcasts recorded before the referendum, Darren Newman discusses possible employment law implications of a majority vote in favour of leaving the EU, including how to manage concerns of EU employees who are worried about job security.

Commentary and analysis